A long list of reptile mimics (Convergence is rampant!)

Yesterday we looked at dromaeosaur mimics within the Tyrannosaurus clade. I just learned they have a name: Megaraptora, currently considered by traditional paleontologists as a poorly known, enigmatic clade, the sisters of tyrannosaurs. Not so enigmatic here.

As you already know,
there are mimics (= convergence) aplenty in the reptile family tree. Some of the following I’m sure you are already familiar with. Others I offer for your consideration.

First the low-hanging fruit

  1. Struthiomimus is an ostrich (Struthio) mimic
  2. Microraptor  and Zhenyuanlong are bird (Archaeopteryx) mimics
  3. Sinosaurosphargi, Henodus, Placochelys and Eunotosaurus are turtle (Proganochelys) mimics
  4. Amphisbaenids like Amphisbaena and Sirenoscincus are snake (Cylindrophis) mimics
  5. Kuehneosaurus and kin are Draco mimics
  6. The basal whale, Dorudon, and the marine croc, Metriorhynchus are Tylosaurus mimics
  7. Proterosuchus is a Sebecus mimic
  8. The pterosaur, Jeholopterus, is an Icaronycteris mimic
  9. Germanodactylus is an Ichthyornis mimic
  10. Pteranodon is a Thalssodromeus mimic.
The Triassic kuehneosaur gliders and their non-gliding precursors.

Figure 1. Click to enlarge. The Triassic kuehneosaur gliders and their non-gliding precursors.

Second, the higher-hanging fruit

  1. Hypsognathus is a horned lizard (Phrynosoma) mimic
  2. Prolacerta, Macrocnemus and Archaeovenator are Varanus mimics
  3. Megalancosaurus is a chameleon (Trioceros) mimic
  4. Dinocephalosaurus is a Tanystropheus mimic
  5. Yutyrannus is a Tyrannosaurus mimic
  6. Askeptosaurus and Sterosternum are Pleurosaurus mimics
  7. Paleorhinus is a Caiman mimic
  8. Dromicosuchus is a Segisaurus mimic.
  9. Eodicynodon is a Rhynchosaurus mimic.
  10. Minmi is an Aetosaurus mimic. And also a Meiolania mimic.
  11. Shuvosaurus is a Dryosaurus mimic
Dinocephalosaurus. Note the very narrow cranial portion of the skull and the very wide cheeks. That, by it self, opens the orbits dorsally. Sure there's some lateral exposure, but those eyes are looking up!

Figure 2. Dinocephalosaurus, a tanystropheus mimic

Third, the highest-hanging fruit

  1. Longisquama is a lemur (Notharctus) mimic
  2. Cosesaurus is an Ornitholestes mimic
  3. Scleromochlus is a Eudibamus mimic
  4. Arizonasaurus and Secodontosaurus are Spinosaurus mimics
  5. Palaegama is a Thadeosaurus mimic
  6. Cartorhynchus is an ichthyosaur (Qianichythyosaurus) mimic
  7. Azendohsaurus is a Pamelaria mimic
  8. Helveticosaurus is a Placodus mimic
  9. Suminia is a Nandinia mimic
  10. Saurorictus is a Paleothyris mimic
  11. AnthodonSimosuchus and Diadectes are Moschops mimics
  12. Sharovipteryx is a Compsognathus mimic.
  13. Procompsognathus is a Limusaurus mimic.
Figure 1. Moschops (above) was a 2.7m long herbivorous therapsid. Simosuchus was a 75cm long herbivorous crocodylomorph.

Figure 1. Moschops (above) was a 2.7m long herbivorous therapsid. Simosuchus was a 75cm long herbivorous crocodylomorph with a similar body shape.

And finally, outside the reptile and/or taxon list boundaries:

  1. The non-reptile microsaur, Tuditanus, is a basal reptile (Hylonomus) mimic
  2. The non-reptile microsaur, Eoserpeton is a Lanthanosuchus mimic.
  3. The non-reptile Icthyostega is a Chronoiosaurus mimic.
  4. The non-reptile Eocaecillia is a Bipes mimic
  5. Tall, slender pterosaurs, like Ardeadactylus, Morganopterus, Gegepterus, are stork and stilt mimics
  6. Tiny pterosaurs, like n6, are hummingbird mimics
  7. Eurhinosaurus is a swordfish mimic
  8. Trinacromerum is a seal mimic
Figure 1. Eurhinosaurus, a derived ichthyosaur, in several views.

Figure 1 Eurhinosaurus, a derived ichthyosaur, in several views looks quite a bit like a swordfish.

I’m sure I missed a few.
Let me know your unlisted favorites.

The importance of a large gamut cladogram
Only proper scoring and a long list of taxa can hope to unravel the phylogeny of reptiles. Current studies do not even recognize the basal position of Gephyrostegus bohemicus, nor the diphyletic division of all remaining reptiles. Heck, most paleontologists still cling to the disproven and unsupportable idea that pterosaurs are archosaurs. Read more about that here, the third of a three-part post.

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